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The Use of Military History

By The Cove August 31, 2020


This paper, based on a presentation by Sir Michael Howard, forms part of the Shedden Papers at the Centre for Defence and Strategic Studies. The paper conveys concepts central to the study of military history, and military strategy, and also pays tribute to broader concepts such as the manner and purpose of scholarly inquiry. It establishes how a knowledge of historical events, and undertaking critical historical analysis, can help strategic leaders understand contemporary events and make informed decisions.  

A key conclusion of the paper is that Sir Michael suggests that in moving forward it will no longer be enough for the military to study operational history. “If you are to understand your enemy, and how best to fight him, you must study the whole of his history.” He believes that tacticians must study operational history; whereas strategists must study the history of war.  

Read the presentation and let us know if you agree with the author's conclusions about the study and use of military history. Do you think we, as an organisation, devote enough time and effort to the study of military history?  



The Cove

The home of the Australian Profession of Arms.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Australian Army, the Department of Defence or the Australian Government.

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